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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Governor’s Education Proposal Could Signal Turning Point for UMass Boston

Deval+Patricks+proposal+could+stabilize+UMass+tuition+costs+for+next+three+years
Deval Patrick’s proposal could stabilize UMass tuition costs for next three years

 

 

Governor Patrick’s office has had a busy winter break. After urging the Board of Education to revise its policy and permit illegal immigrants to pay resident tuition rates, provided they meet all other requirements, a new “21st Century Transportation Plan,” which proposed vast improvements to the state’s transportation systems, was unveiled. Shortly afterwards, the governor released his $34 billion budget proposal for the 2014 fiscal year which included significant spending increases across the state government.

A consequence of Gov. Patrick’s audacious new spending plan would include investing hundreds of millions of dollars on public education with an additional annual $50 million investment in the UMass system. The governor’s proposal would keep tuition and fees at about $12,000 dollars, depending on the campus, until 2015.

To make this a possibility, the governor has proposed increases in income and sin taxes (mainly cigarettes, which will go from costing $1 per package to $3.51 per package). Formerly exempt goods like candy and soda will also then incur sales taxes.

Still, this is a great proposal and cause for an unfamiliar feeling of optimism for UMass Boston students.

For the past few semesters, the cost of attending UMass Boston has been steadily rising. There was a 9 percent tuition fee hike two sessions ago; the 2012 -2013 session also suffered a 4.5 percent fee hike. Financial aid awards amounts dropped slightly and parking fares are on the verge of getting hiked by almost 50 percent. The university is even presently considering cutting a few programs (Labor Studies, CPCS) from its roster. All in all, it’s not been the most progressive of times in these parts.

UMass Boston is home to an immensely diverse group of students, of all ages and lifestyles. The university was built to cater to the members of the population who deserved but couldn’t afford education of impeccable standards. The university has a reputation and tradition of catering to the everyday child, but the recent increases in the cost of attending the university, burying working class students eye-deep in debt, has stained that reputation.

I was of the belief that the UMass system was turning its back on its mission statement and its “special commitment to urban and global engagement” by continually raising fees and investing in facilities which weren’t particularly appealing to its general student population. To an extent, I still am, but the contents of the governor’s proposal have gone some way to dispel some of my doubts. With this education proposal, pending its passing, the university might just be turning a corner.

The state currently shoulders 43 percent of the cost of a UMass student’s education, with the students and their families bearing the rest. President Caret revealed that, in tune with the Education Proposal plan passing, the administration would be able to freeze tuition while the burden of payment would be split equally between the state and the student.

Patrick’s proposal is bound to be faced with vast amounts of resistance, like he himself must be anticipating. Regardless, this is definitely a step in the right direction. The passing of this bill could bring an end to the phenomenon of students working 30, 40 hours a week just in order to afford school, and still being unable to.

Finally, the hardworking UMass Boston student body have something to hope for and look forward to.